Besides good people skills, a basic understanding of the bartending techniques and knowledge of the most popular drink recipes, you will need the proper equipment in order to work as a bartender.
Whether you’re planning on working as a professional bartender or you are simply stocking a home bar, you will need to know what tools are used for the preparation of drinks. This section covers the basic tools professional bartenders use.
If you’re already familiar with the basic bartender tools, go through the list and test your knowledge. Those of you without any prior experience in bartending will surely benefit from the list below.
A bar spoon is essential for stirring and layering drinks. Typically, a bar spoon has a spiral handle and a small spoon bowl with holes. A bar spoon represents 1/8 oz (fluid ounce).
A blender is essential for blending cocktails. A good, professional blender for cocktail shaking is able to crush ice cubes. If you’re using a regular kitchen blender, use crushed ice, as this lessens the wear on the blender’s blades.
You’ll need a bottle opener for bottles that aren’t twist-off. Every bartender should have one. If you’re using other tools like a waiter’s corkscrew, you won’t need a separate bottle opener.
A church key is pointed at one end to punch holes in the tops of cans, while the other end is used to open bottles. If you own a waiter’s corkscrew, you could leave your church key at home.
Juicing fruit can be a tough job without any equipment, so using a citrus reamer will make your life a little bit easier. You could also juice fruit with an electric fruit juicer.
The easy corkscrew, also called winged corkscrew, is found in most homes. It is considered to be easy in use, but it also often destroys the cork. It shouldn’t be a surprise to you that most bartenders do not use this tool.
Many bars make use of rabbit corkscrews or screwpull corkscrews. These are very efficient tools, but they do require practice before you could open a wine bottle effortlessly.
Also called the sommelier corkscrew. It is what most waiters and bar professionals use. It is not as simple to use as an easy corkscrew, but once you understand the way it’s used, you’ll never destroy a cork again.
A cutting board can be either wood or plastic. It is used to cut fruit upon for garnishes. You should always make sure that your cutting board is washed properly before and after each use.
A professional piece of equipment with the unfortunate name rimmer has three sections: one containing sugar, one containing salt and one with a sponge for water or lime juice.
A grater is used for grating nutmeg or zesting fruit. There are different sizes and shapes of graters available. Be sure to choose a smaller and rather compact version.
Every bartender should have an ice bucket with scoop and tongs. Use the scoop – never the glass – to gather the ice in the shaker or mixing glass. Use the tongs to add single cubes to a prepared drink.
Some cocktail recipes may call for the use of crushed ice. Although crushed ice is available commercially in a store near you, you can also use an (electric) ice crusher to crush cubed ice.
Essential for precise measuring. It typically has two cone-shaped metal cups conjoined at the narrow end. Both sides represent a quantity of ounces, fractionalized by lines etched in the metal.
A muddler is used for the crushing of fruits. You should crush fruits by applying pressure in a twisting motion. If you don’t own a muddler, use a blunt tool similar to a pestle.
A paring knife is a small, sharp knife which is used to prepare fruit for garnishes. Many amateurs make the mistake and cut fruits using the wrong knives. Buy a good, compact pairing knife.
Using a pourer gives greater control of your pouring, which is the reason bartenders around the world use it. Some types prevent insects and undesirables from entering the pourer.
A Boston shaker comprises of two cones, one made of glass and the other made of stainless steel. It’s a bit harder to use than a standard shaker. A Boston shaker is used in combination with a Hawthorne strainer.
A standard shaker is one that consists of three parts: a flat-bottomed, conical base or can, a top with a built-in strainer and a cap. It is easier in use than a Boston shaker and an excellent choice for beginners.
A Hawthorne strainer is used in conjunction with a Boston shaker. A perforated metal top, held in place by a wire coil is used on the metal half of a Boston shaker.
A Julep strainer is a perforated, spoon-shaped strainer used in conjunction with a mixing glass. It will prevent large pieces of ice and fruit from ending up in your cocktail.
The head features several sharp holes for zesting lemons, oranges and more, while the channel knife lets you create elegant garnishes and decorations with little effort.
Other items a bartender will use would include coasters to prevent rings on the bar, napkins to help customers hold their drinks, large cups or bowls to hold garnishes, and of course stirrers, straws and cocktail picks.
If you are an aspiring bartender looking to enter the bartending profession, expect your future employer to own most of the equipment listed above. In other words, you do not need to own all of these tools, as they will become available to you once you start working at a bar.
However, if you are looking to master the basic bartending techniques before applying for bartending jobs, I suggest you get yourself a low priced bartender set you could use to practice preparing drinks at home.
While the majority of bars mostly use professional (and thus more expensive) equipment, the low priced bartender sets are good enough to practice with. You could buy a bartender set for as low as $30 and start practicing at home. Once you master the basics, you can start applying for bartending jobs.
Whatever bartender set you choose to purchase, make sure you have at least these tools: a cocktail shaker, strainer, bar spoon and jigger. Owning a blender will also be an asset, as many cocktails are made by blending the ingredients.
Your next step is to master the basic bartending techniques by watching online videos by professionals and repeating the steps.